Ben E. King, singer behind some of R&B’s most classic songs, has died at the age of 76, Billboard has confirmed.
Over his career, King had 21 songs crack the Billboard Hot 100, most notably the iconic 1961 single “Stand By Me.” The U.S. Library of Congress added the classic to the National Recording Registry earlier this year, saying, “It was King’s incandescent vocal that made it a classic.”
King charted 21 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1961 and 1975, including the top 10s “Spanish Harlem” (produced by Phil Spector), “Stand by Me” and “Supernatural Thing – Part 1.” His iconic “Stand” reached No. 4 in 1961 and then returned for a second top 10 run (hitting No. 9) in 1986, reborn as the theme of the box office hit movie of the same name. John Lennon’s 1975 cover of “Stand By Me” reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, “Stand” and “Supernatural” both hit No. 1. King rose highest on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums with 1975’s Supernatural (No. 13), one of his four entries on the list.
King was born September 23, 1938 in Henderson, NC and moved with his family to Harlem in 1947. He lent his baritone to the Drifters in the late ’50s before going solo.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s last album was 2006’s I’ve Been Around.
Additional reporting by Gary Trust.